Okay, I have to admit, food is a pretty important part of my household. My love for food and cooking has rubbed off on my kids and we love eating good food, preparing food and entertaining.
We also love cooking programmes. It probably started with Heston Blumenthal and his feasts, Masterchef, Jamie Oliver, Giada de Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian. Lately, we have been enjoying the 2011 Masterchef Australia season and the latest Come Dine With Me South Africa. Personally, I find Come Dine With Me horrible, but I do enjoy the South African version. Maybe it is because I can sort of associate with it? My 14 year old loves Cake Boss and loves baking. She makes an excellent chocolate mousse and has made some really good chocolate brownies.
Last year I did a pasta making course and we’ve had some fun making our own pasta. Once, we even tried rolling out a sweet pastry with the pasta maker, with a little less success, but it tasted delicious all the same!
So, I guess my kids have been very aware of food, cooking methods and presentation for a while. They don’t have the most refined palates, but they damn well knows what deglazing a pan means. When my youngest was 6 years old, she served me a mothers’ day breakfast of muesli and yoghurt, with ground hundreds-and-thousands in a bowl, set on top of a small plate and a colourful serviette. She told me that she copied the serving suggestion from the muesli box.
Last week, we watched a pre-recorded episode of Come Dine With Me while cooking dinner. If you have watched the show, you will know that it is a reality TV show (what else??), where a bunch of strangers are thrown together and each one gets a turn to host a three-course dinner, which the other contestants will then rate. The winner is the one with the highest score. Obviously, it is staged to a large degree and they go out of their way to toss some weird characters together and people who often rub each other up the wrong way. Makes for interesting TV after all…
When we sat down to eat, like we do – at the dining room table, Bianca asked me what I would have cooked if I had to appear on Come Dine With Me (which I would NEVER do, by the way). I couldn’t immediately say, since I am one of those people who will pour over the perfect meal combination for hours, but this clearly got their culinary juices going, because they started speculating about what they would make.
Eleven year old Anya said, “For a starter I would make those crost…, you know the ones where you double bake them, drizzled in olive oil?”
Bianca offered, “Biscotti?”
I suggested, “Crostini?”
“Yes”, she said, “and as a main course homemade pasta.”
“Which type?”, I ask.
“Like what Bianca often orders at La Trinita.” (Our favourite Italian restaurant.)
Now it was Bianca’s turn. She wasn’t sure about starters…maybe soup or ravioli?
Main course was no contest…”Mom’s fancy fillet, stuffed with bacon and cream sauce, with grilled feta on top. With veggies and potato.”
“Baked potato?”, I asked.
“No, finely sliced potato fried in oil, almost like chips.”
“Chocolate mousse with marscapone and orange cream.” Without a doubt. Her speciality.
Now it was my turn. I don’t often cook starters, but they told me upfront it needed to be something light, because I had to make my lasagne. Giada’s Meaty Mushroom Lasagna. It is their favourite lasagne ever. And everytime I make it, it is a hit. Even my brother, who part owned an Italian restaurant had to admit it was the best lasagne ever. Not your traditional lasagne with mince and béchamel sauce. No, with garlic and butter fried mushrooms and a proscuitto-laced béchamel sauce.
Dessert would have to be something light, like sorbet. Or something chocolatey. Or pannacotta.
By now our food, fish in a tomato and capers based sauce, served on couscous, was done and dinner was over. I was disappointed. Dinner is really the best part of my day!
To good food and many happy family meals!